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Sun focus may lead Tadpole into calmer waters

Struggling UK notebook PC maker Tadpole Technology has received a warm reception for its Sun-centric new strategy. The firm's share price continued its rise upwards today, leaping from 14.

Struggling UK notebook PC maker Tadpole Technology has received a warm reception for its Sun-centric new strategy. The firm's share price continued its rise upwards today, leaping from 14.5 pence to 21 pence on late trading.

The one-time top-end notebook high-flier is taking a new tack after years of spotty finances. Its plan: build upon its relationship with Sun and enter the Java solutions sector.

Always best known for its ruggedised mobile PCs, Tadpole plans to cancel all Intel-based products and concentrate on units based on Sun's Sparc processor and running the Solaris flavour of Unix. A new line of Sparc-based notebooks is due mid-1998.

Tadpole will follow up towards the end of the year with a line of mobile systems aimed purely at running Java. The firm will also work with partners to develop exclusive application software.

"It was too hard to compete in the Wintel notebook world," said Bernard Hulme, group CEO. "That's not a design game; it's a distribution game. We also got rid of our board business and now we're focused on Sun technology. Only a fraction of Solaris appications actually run happily on Intel. The natural environment to run Solaris is the Sparc chip."

Hulme said he expected to generate interest from utilities with large numbers of field service engineers.

He added that cost projections put the Java notebook products "priced well below Wintel products".